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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Spiritual Growth Inhibitors (Mark 4:18)

"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful."

Beginning with His first command to mankind at creation, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth," God reveals His interest in reproduction. The first children would have been birthed in a perfect environment, had Adam and Eve not sinned against the Lord; instead the first children were birthed outside of the Garden of Eden where Adam had to till hostile soil. Likewise, the human heart has often proved hostile to the seed of God. Ever since the Fall the soil of the human heart struggles to receive the Word of God and bear fruit to God.

The problem lies not with the seed but with the condition of the soil. Shallow soil prohibits seedling maturity. The soil just as readily produces thorns and weeds which grow up and choke the life out of the young seedling. Prepared soil receives the seed and matures the seedling until harvest.

Those who have been born again have His seed (1 John 3:9). God seeks to manifest Himself through the life of the believer. We must take seriously the responsibility to ensure the Word of God has a fertile place in our hearts in which to grow. In order to do that we must understand the three growth inhibitors mentioned in the parable of the soils.
  1. Seeds need access to enough of the right kind of soil, deep and fertile enough for roots to develop). Shallowness is an inhibitor.
  2. Seeds need to be planted in soil where there is little traffic (unlike a path where travelers trod). Paths represent the presence of others. Worrying about what others think is an inhibitor. The applause of man or the fear of man are a snare.
  3. Seeds need to be planted in soil where the soil is weeded. Other things grow in fertile soil. Thorns and thistles compete with seedlings; they are the futile and temporal things we invest in. Excessive entertainment, consumerism, hobbies, etc. are inhibitors.
Those who hear the Word, accept and act on it persevere until fruit is born.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading

Mark 3:31-35; Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21
  • How does following Jesus transcend earthly relationships?
Mark 4:1-20; Matthew 13:1-23; Luke 8:4-18
  • How does Jesus make His teaching memorable?
  • Which soil best describes the crowd?
  • What do all the soils have in common?
  • According to Jesus' Isaiah reference what does the soil represent?
  • What role does Satan play in preventing growth? What does this tell you about Satan?
  • What other word picture does Jesus employ to warn hearers?
Mark 4:21-29
  • What does the lamp represent?
  • What warning is contained in this parable?
  • Where does growth come from? What does this tell you about the Word?
Turning truth into prayer
Does the Lord have complete access to your heart and life? Do you allow other things to compete with or overshadow your prayer life and time spent in His word. Ask the Lord to help you be a hearer and doer of the Word.